Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fancy Photo Shoot

Now, this is what I call a fancy photo shoot! Take a look below:

How cute...all the President's men flanking her in what they term as a "solidarity walk." There's former NEDA Secretary and now-CHED Commissioner Romulo Neri at her right while Vice-president Noli de Castro wears a smug expression at Arroyo's left. What could be on the veep's mind? "Hrmph....gisingin kaya ako ng bubwit na 'to ng kay-aga-aga para lang makilakad sa kanya sa harap ng Malacañang Press Corps...buwisit!" Of course, I'm just making that up...

Honestly, who are these guys kidding? Filipinos are not as gullible as before.

Photos are supposed to tell many stories, but this one doesn't say much. People aware of the numerous controversies hounding the Arroyo administration at present will simply interpret this as an attempt to thwart rumors of several cabinet men planning to bolt out from the administration.

Photo-ops like this remind me of a very effective PR strategy former President Joseph Estrada used to employ just before he decided to run for president in 1998. At that time, he was still the vice-president under the Ramos administration. While the position of vice-president is not exactly a position of power, Estrada was already setting his sights on the highest seat of power in the land.

At the onset, the so-called Philippine literati and elite looked down on Erap for being a two-bit actor with a less-than-respectable command of the English language. (Geez, I remember all those Erap jokes circulating in schools and offices at that time! Heard the one about Erap and "violence?" Hakhakhak!) But little did these people realize that Erap had an ace up his sleeve: his relationship with the masa.

And Erap played this ace of his to the hilt in the only way he knew how -- through constant media exposure. Soon, newspapers and TV news coverages had a liberal helping of photos/news clips carrying Erap appearing in this or that function, from kissing babies in Smokey Mountain to shaking hands with foreign dignitaries in Malacañang. Sometimes, one would see Erap's face in the most unlikeliest of places -- pointing to an alleged holdupper in a police precinct or buying vegetables at the local talipapa. Talk about omnipotence...

I was still in media at that time, and I remember one of our photographers complaining about a simple photo shoot of an alleged perpetrator in a controversial rape-slay case. The said photo shoot took too long because of Erap. According to him, the media photographers were made to wait for several hours upon Erap's orders. No one understood why this was so until he finally arrived at the police precinct. He talked a little to the alleged rapist, then started instructing to the photographers to take pictures of him pointing at the poor fellow. After a few more minutes, it was all over. So in totality, waiting for Erap took about two hours; the actual picture-taking only took less than 30 minutes.

Erap's strategy somewhat conveyed to the masses that he is truly concerned about the country's situation because of his personal visits to places where all the so-called happenings were. That is primarily what catapulted him to the Chief Executive position by 1998.

When trouble started to rock the foundations of the Erap administration, he resorted once more to this PR ploy to quash the rumors. In fact, it was he who initiated this "solidarity walk" with his own men when rumors scattered pertaining to his failing health and his weakening hold on his government.

And such a cheap political trick is now being pulled off by Gloria Arroyo herself.

Thus, to borrow the immortal words of Lavinia from "Pangarap na Bituin" -- Gloria Arroyo is nothing but a second-rate trying-hard copycat.

Very revolting, actually...

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